A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese
They had all gathered together for one last time. Robbers, thieves and killers of the worst kind.
Men like Arthur Klemp, horse thief and cattle rustler. Johnny Bad, killer of four men. And the worst offender of them all, Santos Francisco, bank, stage, train robber and killer.
All had escaped the noose. They served their time and now they each found themselves past their eightieth birthday, living in poverty. Their past deeds had earned them nothing. Except for Johnny Bad. He carried a bullet, shot from the gun of the last man he killed.
It was rumored that Santos had buried a cache of money but had forgotten where. Age had taken that memory from him and he mourned its loss.
Powell Lancaster owned the Harley boarding house in Elko, Nevada. Built in the 1800's, it was a relic of the old west. Bypassed by customers in search of more modern living quarters. It was 1925. The town was progressing. Lancaster needed a way for his boarding house to bring in more revenue and he found it in Arthur Klemp who lived just outside of town.
Powell had become acquainted with Arthur over the past year. The two had occasionally shared a beer and a game of checkers. Arthur loved to talk about the old days. He came up with the idea to bring two of his old cellmates, Johnny Bad and Santos Francisco to town. They would all live in the boarding house at no cost. Lancaster would let it be known that they were boarding house residents. In exchange, they would entertain paying customers with stories of their past exploits. It was a winning combination certain to bring in new customers. They would even let Lancaster sell autographed photos for a 50/50 split.
It wasn't difficult to talk Johnny and Santos into it. They both needed better living conditions and the money was an added bonus. The plan was put into action and soon the old boarding house was booked solid. Everything was going as planned. Lancaster was making enough to afford some much needed repairs and the three old desperadoes were making a name for themselves once again. Only this time it was all legal and above board.
Six months had gone by. Johnny Bad and Arthur were on the front porch talking with one of the guests when Santos came out and sat down at the other end of the porch. He kept motioning for the two men to come over. They politely excused themselves.
“What's so urgent that you had to pull us away from telling a good story?” Asked Arthur.
“We need horses,” replied Santos.
“Horses, Why do we need horses? I haven't rode a horse in years,” Replied Johnny Bad.
“Do you remember when we were cellmates, I told you I hid a lot of money, but I forgot where?”
“Ya, what about it?” They replied.
Santos almost yelled it out. “I remember where I hid the money.”
© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.